Good as gold

Published 9:09 pm Saturday, August 4, 2012

— In 2009, 14-year-old Gabby Douglas left her family in Virginia Beach and moved to West Des Moines, Iowa, to train with Liang Chow at Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute. Douglas, who began her gymnastics training at age 6, wanted nothing more than to represent the United States at the Olympics.
Last week, her sacrifice paid off and her dream came true. After winning the gold medal in the team competition, Douglas struck gold again as the all-around women’s gymnastics champion, the third in a row for the U.S. and fourth in history.
— It was the beginning of June when 15-year-old Katie Ledecky completed her freshman year at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland. Only weeks before the start of her sophomore year, Ledecky is currently the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team in London.
Inspired by teammates Missy Franklin, Elizabeth Beisel and Michael Phelps, she swam the second-fastest 800-meter freestyle in history during her very first international competition. Tears welled in her eyes during the playing of our national anthem after she received her gold medal.
— Missy Franklin is an all-around athlete. Long before she became the first American female to swim seven events at the Olympics, she played basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis and gymnastics.
Franklin, from Aurora, Colorado, has already earned four medals — three gold and one bronze — in the London Games.
These are just three of the 529 athletes who represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. While some are multi-million dollar professional athletes, many struggle financially, balancing training with earning a living.
But when the whistle blows, they all wear the stars and stripes on an international stage.
Medal winners also receive an honorarium for their performance: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. As you can expect, the Internal Revenue Service is there to collect its share of the winnings.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio recently introduced the Olympic Tax Elimination Act that would make the honorariums exempt from federal taxation.
Knowing the sacrifice that all of these athletes make for the country, we feel it right and proper that they deserve a tax break on the honorariums. Those fortunate enough to land endorsement deals will be taxed on that income.
The honorariums should be given special dispensation as a thank you gift to those medal-winning athletes for their many years of hard work and dedication on our behalf.